Ben Brooker

Below the Line

Next Wave X Commission

77 keyboard warriors, 4 days, 191 comments. Stripped of their anonymity, Australia’s loudest climate denialists are pitted against the eco-conscious in a fast, ferocious, and ultimately futile game of oneupmanship. Nothing much is at stake. Only the planet.

Drawing on the comments submitted to Kate Hennessy’s 2016 Guardian article about David Finnigan’s play, Kill Climate Deniers, Below the Line is a vital new theatre work exploring climate denialism, online comment culture, and our complicity in the unfolding catastrophe of climate change.

Over 75-minutes, five performers embody 77 online commenters as their irreconcilable worldviews clash head on. Disconnected from each other, the world, and themselves, they have nowhere to go except their own, ever-shrinking echo chambers. What emerges is a surreal, apocalyptic vision of a broken conversation playing out its death throes while the world burns.

Created by playwright and theatre-maker Ben Brooker in collaboration with designer Meg Wilson, choreographer Alison Currie, and dramaturg Bridget Mackey, Below the Line is a riveting indictment of how we talk about the climate emergency. As unprecedented fires rage across Australia, it asks: who gets to speak? Who do we listen to? And what happens when  an overheated world revolts against us all?

Below the Line was scheduled to premiere at Next Wave, Melbourne, in May. The festival was cancelled due to COVID-19 public health measures. The artists have participated in Next Wave’s responsive Assemble! program.

Creative Team

Ben Brooker (SA), Meg Wilson (SA), Sindey Millar (Vic), Alison Currie (SA) and Bridget Mackey (Vic)